Monday, May 28, 2012

Where's your identity?

Over the past several weeks, as we have been in transition living with my parents and traveling around, I have realized that something is missing.  Without a home, a place that is mine, I'm less...well, less stressed!  You would think it would be the opposite right?  Without a place to call home one would assume that the stress level would rise as a result of living in transition.   However, that is not the case.  Instead I feel less stressed.  Odd?  Maybe.  But I think I have figured out why.

Last week I saw a video (part of a marriage series), that addressed the "non important" things in our lives and how we let those things cause conflict in our marriage.  You know, the non-important, worldly things that rise to a level of importance so high that to shirk certain duties would be considered treason against holy matrimony.  Oh, you need an example?  How about cleaning.  Is cleaning good?  Yes.  Does it provide order and hygenic living that allows you to feel at peace about counters, floors and the like being clean?  Yes.  Is it important enough that when a certain someone doesn't vacuum/unload the dishwasher/clean the bathroom the way you asked it calls for resentment and anger?  No.  It's really not.     

I say it is not important because in reality, tasks like cleaning should be secondary in our lives.  The important things - putting each other first, spending time together, listening to each other, being kind, having patience, serving one another - should always be a priority.  But in reality that doesn't happen.  Instead, when my husband usually comes home from work I'm deep in the middle of cooking, attempting to clean the kitchen at the same time.  I'm not really listening to him as he shares about his day or is trying to process something with me.  Nope, instead in my mind I'm worried if the chicken will be done at the same time as the potatoes so both can go on the table together.  Do you think my hubby cares if the chicken is done a few minutes late?  Not at all.  He would rather have my attention for five minutes.  Need another example?  How about insisting that the bathroom has to be spotless before company shows up instead of taking ten minutes to unwind together over a glass of wine.  Or getting mad when the dishwasher isn't unloaded when I get home from work and he had Friday off.  Really?  Is it worth getting upset about?  I used to think it was.  I felt totally justified in my anger that he should have taken the time to at least unload the dishwasher.  You know what?  It's not important.  Instead he spent all day working on our finances to make sure that we had everything in order so our bills get paid on time.  But I never took time to realize that...

In short, not having a house to clean and keep in order has made me, um, nicer?  Weird.  I'm not saying that I used to go around mad all the time, because I'm really not that kind of person.  But I would get worked up about weird stuff and be jumpy and anxious about "keeping house" because that's what was supposed to be important, or so I thought. 

Watching that video really made me think about what I consider important - and more importantly, made me think about where I find my identity.  If I was getting upset and feeling anxious about "keeping house", I'm pretty sure that means that at least part of my identity was wrapped up in how my house looked and how good I was at keeping it all together.  I don't think that's how it is supposed to be.  

It's funny how the Lord reveals certain things at unexpected times to teach us, shape us and grow us.  I never saw how highly I held the "non important" things in my life before, how it was affecting my marriage and how it had became part of my identity.  My prayer now is that I will have the grace and the courage to maintain this new outlook as we transition overseas.  Apparently living overseas is actually more stressful!  There are many more things to get worked up about.  If I can work now towards eliminating one of them, maybe there's hope for a happier tomorrow.  

I haven't figured it all out, I learn as I go - both feet in, up to my neck.  But I do know that when we put our identity in something, once it is removed something else takes it's place.  I hope that as we walk forward through this transition, that my identity is not displaced to other "non-important" or worldly things.  That instead, I put my identity not on what is seen, but what is unseen.  For this world is temporary, but Christ - He's eternal!  

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